Thursday, April 29, 2010

Freshman Orientation

LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts had their freshman orientation the other evening.  J and I took the subway there.  It takes less than 30 minutes from our house.  This is great - lots of kids who go there spend over an hour each way on public transportation.  B met us there after work.  When we arrived J had to go and get a folder full of paperwork.  She gave them her last name and they handed her the folder.  That's the first time I started getting teary-eyed.  They had a folder with her name on it.  omg she is really going here.

In the concert hall, we must have heard "congratulations" a dozen times.  This school knows it's special and has no problem letting everyone else know, too.  One speaker said there were thousands of kids who weren't accepted and that they only accept the "best of the best" and how in awe they are of them.  I was getting teary again.  Then when the principal said "Welcome, class of 2014!", that was it - I was a mess. 

We watched a slide show of lots of famous alumni (to the tune of Irene Cara's "Fame", lol), went over curriculum and procedures, filled out a bunch of paperwork, and J got her school ID picture taken.  We got a summer reading list and she'll take a math placement test in June.  She recognized a few kids from auditions and made friends with a bunch of other kids just on the line for ID pictures.  This is probably the 4th or 5th time I've been to the school and each time I've taken note of the wonderful staff and students.  They are kind, helpful, and funny, and they really appreciate what this school is.  If I had to describe in one word how the school feels, it would be:  comfortable.  It just feels...right.  That's weird for me since I usually dislike something before I like it, lol. 

The best part of all is that J is giddy-excited about going there.  She loves everything she's seen so far (B & I have, too).  I'm so proud I can't stand it. 

Monday, April 26, 2010


Another dance competition behind us.  This one was in Long Island and J's studio did GREAT!  J was in 8 numbers over 2 days and got all HIGH GOLD AND PLATINUM awards.  her solo, duet, and 2 group numbers won the Judges Choice "Intensity" award.  They also placed in the top 5.  I bought 2 videos and the whoe CD of photos from her solo.  Here's a couple of shots from Saturday.  I guess they are pretty "intense", lol:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weekly Academic Recap

This week readings and narrations were from:

A Child's History of the World
The Story of Mankind
Understood Betsy
The Little Duke
Abraham Lincoln (D'Aulaire)
The Burgess Animal Book
Tree in the Trail
Doctor DoLittle

We also read, discussed, and W copied:

"April Rain Song" by Langston Hughes
"Early Spring" by Alfred Lord Tennyson
"The Four Sweet Months" by  Robert Herrick

We did 3 Lessons in TT5,  2 pages in The Complete Book of Maps and Geography, 2 pages on helping verbs in Learning at Home Grade 4, and 1 lesson in the HoP Master Reader program.

We looked at lots of Claude Monet's paintings and learned about Impressionism.

And we went to the playground a lot.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Week

My 17th wedding anniversary was the other day. B and I went out for dinner on Friday and I came home to a dozen roses on Monday. We should always have days like that.

This week we're focusing on the academics (I try and avoid the word "schoolwork" since nothing we do resembles school at all). I haven't planned too many daytime outings over the next few months because I'd like to catch up some more on W's schedule. At the rate we're going, we'll finish AO Yr 2 by the end of September, lol.

He's doing great, though, narrating like a pro and whizzing through math. Now that he can reel off the whole times table (the 12s are still tricky, though) and the corresponding division without hesitation, I think any new math concept we encounter will be a piece of cake. As long as he's enjoying it, he's learning.

I found this online calendar ( that seems perfect to use as a daily log of what W and I cover each day. It's very simply laid out. I just enter the info (broken into subjects) and I can print out a day, week, or month. I find it way easier and faster to use than the google calendar or other ones I've tried.  Even though we don't NEED to keep records like this, I enjoy doing it and have always kept some sort of academic log.

J has a dance competition coming up this weekend. She has 3 small groups, 3 large groups, 1 duet, and 1 solo. We'll be staying at my mom's for the weekend since she lives close to the comp venue. Today and tomorrow I'll be pulling everything out of the trunk and garment bag, going over all 8 costumes and making sure all accessories, shoes, makeup, jewelry, and toiletries are packed. That's the nerve-wracking part - making sure we don't forget anything. There's nothing worse than knowing your daughter has to be on stage in 3 minutes and her left tap shoe is no where to be found.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Glassblowing Workshop

First I want you all to check out the new book carousels I made in the blog sidebar. I'm so excited about how cool they are. The first one has some great books on using a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. Further down I made one using many of the Ambleside Online Year 2 selections (that one is a ferris wheel - not a carousel, lol). We are currently using every one of those. Under that is a carousel of supplemental workbooks and stuff that we use and that W likes. Take a look!!

J and W has a great glassblowing class yesterday in Long Island.  After a brief overview, J chose to make a bowl and W, a glass.  The glass is liquid and is kept hot in a 2000 degree oven.  It is swirled onto the end of a long pole, and then you blow into the tube for the far end to created a small bubble of air in the liquid glass on the other end.  Then the glass is dipped into some finely crushed colored glass - to give your piece some color.  The pole frequently goes back into the oven to keep the glass soft and liquidy and also has to keep spinning or it will drip right off onto the floor.  Various metal tool are used for shaping and cooling.  This was one of the more interesting workshops we've ever taken and the kids enjoyed it a lot.  Today we're going back to pick up the bowl and glass they made!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Blasting Back into AO

School vacation is keeping all my kids very busy.  K went back yesterday, J's Catholic school friends go back Monday.   K went to the beach after school (it was 90 degrees!) and J went to an early premiere of Glee in Manhattan with her friend last night.  I finally caught up with all of last season's episodes and I can't wait for the new season (next week, yay).  She said it was fun - a glee club from NJ came to sing for them.

3rd quarterlies are going out next week.  No testing this year - J's done and W will do his in 5th grade.

We're jumping back into AO with both feet.  He was satisfied with the break we took from it, but he's ready for it again.  I'm glad.  I know it was a major factor in helping him overcome his reading block - all that great literature can cure anything.  Dyslexia doesn't really go away, but the progress he's made just since the beginning of the school year is remarkable.  And I know AO is the reason why W has such a sharp memory now.  It requires (and thus, creates) such good listening skills, and that spills into great narration skills, which is supposed to create great writing/composition skills.  Now that W is 9, we'll be starting some written narrations in a month or so.  We plan on keeping the AO schedule the same as we did before (pretty much).  We also incorporated a few more workbooks on our hiatus, and we're keeping those.  So, for example, today's schedule (for W) looks like this:
  • 1 AO Reading (me reading aloud 1 chapter of An Island Story, w/narration).  We use an atlas during the reading and then add people, events, and dates to our timeline.  It's fun.
  • 1 or 2 chapters (me reading aloud) of a Free Reading book (we're continuing with Abraham Lincoln by d'Aulaire.  No narrations with the free readings)
  • Finishing up the rest of Times Tales (Part 2 - 1 page of multiplication and review of division)
  • I read a poem out loud (from a Year of Poems), we discuss it, and he does some of it as copywork
  • A page or 2 from Learn at Home Grade 4.
  • W reads 1 chapter of Tree in the Trail aloud then narrates back. (we used an atlas with this book, too)
  • 1 page of the Maps/Geography workbook. 
  • Another readloud from me if we feel like it (Understood Betsy)
It is now Term 3 of AmblesideOnline and we will be learning about garden flowers & weeds in Nature Study, Maurice Ravel in Composer Study, and Claude Monet in Artist Study. Monet is one of W's favorites. He picked "The Waterlily Pond" to do a reinterpretation of a few years ago at a homeschool art class. We visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few months later and saw that painting right up close. My 6-year-old yelling out, "Look Ma! There's the Monet!" brought on a few stares our way, lol.

J is plugging away with her academics as well (see post on March 9th).  Things are smoothly sailing along here.  W has a couple of homeschool group trips coming up and we're planning on hitting some museums soon.  We're ready for the Met again, actually.  Now that the weather is really beautiful, I just wanna get out a LOT.   I'll have my camera ready!

Friday, April 02, 2010


We've moved on to Part 2 of Times Tales and again after about 30 minutes W had the rest of the 6,7,8 & 9 times tables learned.  He shocked himself, actually.  His favorite thing is when it's turned around and a division problem is made out of it.  The book has flash cards that you punch out - and W is a flash-card person.  He's still reading "If You Lived in Colonial Times" aloud to me almost every day.  I like the way the book is laid out - one chapter per page or 2.  We're using The Complete Book of English Language Arts a couple of times a week.  Yesterday we went over personification, hyperbole, similes, and metaphors.    I also purchased a book called "Learn at Home Grade 4", which is full of great ideas for what to do each week.  W likes it, and I like this kind of outline.

J's friends (and just about all NYC 8th-graders) finally got their school results.  Some of J's friends are going to Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, 2 got into Talent Unlimited, some weren't matched at all or only matched to their zoned school, and some who didn't like their option will go to the Catholic schools they reserved spots in.  J was glad she wasn't one of the ones waiting for a letter.  She's just so excited to be going to LaGuardia High School.  Watching the demo dance classes at the open house and checking out a few youtube dance videos has almost overwhelmed her with the level of talent there.   Freshman Orientation is this month, but September can't come soon enough for her. 

This has been a nice week off for all the schoolkids.  J has been out every day with her friends having a blast.  W's been to the park most days (the non-rainy ones, lol) and I'm planning on getting him together with his homeschooled friends more often.  Now that the weather is nicer, I want to get us all outside more during the daytime.  I can't believe it's April already.